Sunday, July 19, 2015

Report from ... 6 Barrels for 6 Chefs at Huff Estates, 8th Edition - July 10, 2015

I'll be honest with you, 6 for 6 is one of my favourite events of the year, and as you read on you'll see why ... I've attended seven of eight that have been held -  best part about missing that one was it rained cats and dogs that one time. Over the years (other than that one time) weather has ranged from gorgeous to excellent each year - there have been sweltering hot evenings and windy evenings, mosquito filled evenings and one's that went longer than expected, but thankfully it has always been clear of any foul weather.  This 8th edition was absolutely gorgeous: cool breeze, comfortable temps, it was I think the best weather ever for a 6 for 6 evening ... but enough about the weather - it's time to talk about 6 for 6 itself.

6 Barrels for 6 Chefs is Huff's annual charity event where they invite outstanding chef talent (6 in total) to cook "in their vineyard" and pair their dish with an unfinished wine (from barrel), hence 6 Barrels for 6 Chefs ... this year, for the first time, they really shook it up by inviting 6 wineries to participate - in the past it has been three wineries doing the heavy lifting: Huff Estates, Closson Chase and Norman Hardie - but this year they added Rosehall Run, Casa Dea and Lighthall to the mix ... still with a separation of 3 Chardonnays and 3 Pinot Noirs, it gave the evening an even great air of camaraderie and friendly competition about who was making better wine.

Notably absent this year was Chef Bryan Steele, who, according to legend, helped inspire the event, along with Huff's winemaker Frederic Picard, over a few glasses of - the whole sordid tale can be found here.  The Chefs in attendance this year were: Matt DeMille (Drake Devonshire), Pat Garland (Absinthe Cafe), Scott Kaplan (East & Main), Clark Day (Aquaterra & Bayview Farm in Collins Bay), Sebastian Schwab Cuisine, Carl Heinrich (Richmond Station), and Elliot Reynolds (Hubb at Angeline's).

It's now time to look at the notables this year from food to wine and of course the pairings - all the food was outstanding, but some are always better than others, but there is always thought put into how it matched with the accompanying, yet ever changing wine (it's in barrel after all) - I am told that some chefs make adjustments in the vineyard while others stick with their originally conceived dish.  The wines speak for themselves and are bell-weathers for the vintage they are from (all from the currently barreled vintage - 2014) so are quite young - some seem really drink now while others still need time to round out, but they are all interesting so see at this moment in time.

This all said: Six Barrels for Six Chefs still remains one of the premier events in all of wine country Ontario and that takes into account all regions - it is the jewel in the crown of Prince Edward County events and to this day remains a unique experience that has yet to be duplicated elsewhere.

Chef Carl Heinrich shows off
his Pate en Croute

Now let's look at the evening in pictures ... 









Let's look at the food, the wine and the pairings and how they rank throughout the evening ...

Chef Par Garland works at his station
His finished product:
Lake Pickerel "Lox", Vegetable Macedoine Salad,
Poached Egg, Sour Cream and Onion Chip, Lemon Verbena

Paired with Closson Chase 2014 Chardonnay
Seguin Moreau 225L barrel medium toast - 1st fill
--- A lovely pairing - #2 on the list of best food of the night ---
Chef Carl Heinrich puts the finishing touches on his dish
While Dan Sullivan, Rosehall Run, provides the wine
The Dish:
Rabbit and Pork Terrine en Croute with Pistachio
Paired with Rosehall Run 2014 Pinot Noir
Billon barrel 225L Vosges forest medium toast - 1st fill
--- most drinkable now Pinot of the night, both the wine and
food were delicious, but sadly neither enhanced the other ---
Sebastian Schwab works on his dish
The finished dish:
Ice Wine White Tea Smoked Mariposa Farm Magret of Duck,
Sour Cherry Sauce, Heirloom Beets
While the beets were fresh the duck was tough and chewy ...
easily our least favourite dish of the night (sorry Sebastian)
not even the Casa Dea 2014 Pinot Noir Mercurey barrel 225L
SR toast - 5th fill ... could elevate it.
Chef Clark Day presents his dish
Frying Crispy Spatzle in a pan full of butter ...
and you know all GOOD recipes start off that way
His Dish:
Crispy Spatzle with Pinot-Braized Pulled Water Buffalo
in Reduced Drippings with Brie de Milford

Paired with Lighthall 2014 Pinot Noir
Dargaux & Jaegle barrel 225L medium toast - 3rd fill
A match made it heaven we had to look at it twice ...
--- this was the #1 food and wine pairing of the night
and the #1 food - Congrats Chef Clark ---
The scallops of East & Main (Chef Scott Kaplan)
marinate before being turned into their dish
Scallops and Satsuma Escabeche with
Long Pepper and Basil Served on Lavash
Paired with Norman Hardie 2014 Chardonnay
Mercurey barrel 500L ST toast - 3rd fill
--- my #1 pick for Chardonnay of the night ---

The dish on its own had little pizzazz but the pairing worked -
the wine elevated the food making it delicious
(nice job Scott & Norman)
Matt DeMille's Rabbit Foie Gras Terrine
with Foraged County Greens
Paired with Huff Estates 2014 Chardonnay
Dargaux & Jaegle barrel 225L medium-heavy toast COF - 3rd fill
--- It was an okay dish, not top, not bottom -
somewhere in the middle ... someone's got to be ---

Top Two Dishes of the Night ...

Chef Clark Day (#1 - on left) - Bayview Farm in Collins Bay
Chef Pat Garland (#2 - on right) - Absinthe Cafe
Other Pictures of the Night's Event ...

A look at the perfect weather of the evening
overlooking Huff's vineyard
The evening from the other side of the tent - where the work is done
The gathering of the chefs and winemakers for the annual post event picture
It's never easy to get as people are always looking everywhere -
but sooner or later you take what you can get:
There they are folks, the Chefs and Winemakers of 6 for 6, 2015
And another Six for Six comes to a close with dessert by
Chef Elliot Reynolds: White Miso and Apricot Jelly Roll with
double smoked Bacon Soil, Coconut Caramel
See you Next Year

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